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Military Songs

American Revolution and Before

Laurence Stalling's, the author of What Price Glory?, once wrote that "anything pertaining to the true gusto of the soldier is rarely saved." That is especially true of early American war songs.  The first colonial soldiers song, Lovewell's Fight, of which there is a surviving record was composed shortly after Captain Lovewell's victory over the Indians at Pigwacket on 8 May 1725.  That however is an exception, for while scores of ballads that were popular with the soldiers and militiamen of the time have survived, very few are truely soldiers' songs.  Even of those that have a martial tone, the overwhelming majority are tradtional tunes, often coupled with "new" pre-war, pro-liberty lyrics composed by civilians.  Not surprisingly, the most popular songs in camp and on the march were those ballads, like the Saratoga Song, that directly addressed the fighting.